J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2019 Mar ;52:37-47. Epub 2018 Nov 14. PMID: 30732897
The relationship between mercury exposure and epigenetic alterations regarding human health, risk assessment and diagnostic strategies.
BACKGROUND: Exposure to the environmental toxicants poses a serious threat to human health. The extent of exposure and the development of diseases are interrelated with each other. Chronic exposure to mercury (Hg) increases the risk of developing serious human disorders from embryo to adulthood.OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this review is to highlight the most common human disorders induced by Hg exposure on the basis of epigenetic mechanisms. A growing body of evidence shows that Hg exposure leads to alterations in the epigenetic markers.METHODS: We performed an organized search of the available literature using PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline, Reaxys, EMBASE and Scopus databases. All the relevant citations, including research and review articles in English were evaluated. The search terms included mercury, Hg, epigenetics, epigenetic alterations, DNA methylation, histone modifications, microRNAs (miRNAs), and risk assessment.RESULTS: Data on human toxicity due to Hg exposure shows broad variations in terms of chemical nature, doses, and the rate of exposure. Hg consumption either via foods or environmental sources may create deleterious health effects on various physiological systems at least partially through an epigenetic mechanism.CONCLUSION: Hg exposure could trigger epigenetic alterations, hence leading to various human disorders including reduced newborn cerebellum size, adverse behavioral outcomes, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. Similarly, in adults, occupational Hg exposure has been associated with an increased risk of autoimmunity. It has been revealed that miRNAs in the woman's cervix are a novel responder to maternal Hg exposure during pregnancy. Hg-induced epigenetic alterations analysis of kidney tissues showed a significant interruption in renal function. DNA methylation and histone post-translation modifications are predominant types of Hg epigenetic alterations.